Polio did not put a brake on my life

131017_gufwan2By Ayuba Burki Gufwan, a polio survivor and founder/director of Beautiful Gate Handicapped People Center in Plateau State, Nigeria. Launched in 1999, Beautiful Gate has built and distributed more than 6,000 tricycle-type wheelchairs to polio survivors in Nigeria and neighboring states.

I was born in a tiny village in Plateau State, Nigeria. My mother had lost two babies before I was born, so when I came along everyone was very excited. I still remember faintly playing around with other kids. At the age of five, I came down with polio.

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One drop away from a polio-free life

Ade Adepitan with other polio survivors in Nigeria.

Ade Adepitan with other polio survivors in Nigeria.

By Ade Adepitan, polio survivor, United Kingdom broadcaster, and former Paraylmpian.

I contracted polio at the age of 15 months while living in Lagos, Nigeria. I had been given two drops of the polio vaccine, but the virus caught me before I had the third and final drop which would have protected me for life. Continue reading

Why polio eradication means so much to me

Diane WIlkins in an iron lung

Grant Wilkins’ first wife, Diane, in an iron lung in the 1950s. Photo courtesy of Grant Wilkins.

By Grant Wilkins, past RI director and member of the Rotary Club of Denver, Colorado, USA.

In 1951, as a young father of three children ages 5, 2, and 3-months (the youngest born prematurely and still in the hospital), I contracted Bulbar Polio.

My throat and vocal cords were paralyzed, and I couldn’t talk or swallow. A tracheotomy and intravenous feedings kept me alive for two weeks until the paralysis started letting up.

My wife came to visit me for the first time after those two weeks, and mentioned she wasn’t feeling well. A spinal tap found she had the Lumbar Polio virus, and she was immediately admitted to the polio ward. Within 24 hours, she was completely paralyzed from the neck down and could not breathe on her own. Continue reading

Running the distance for polio eradication

Tanya Wolff at the end of a marathon.

Tanya Wolff at the end of Disney’s marathon-and-a-half.

By Tanya F. Wolff, past governor of District 6330 in Ontario, Canada

I am not a runner. I can jog. I can walk and I can hike. I do these things for those in the world who cannot.

The PolioPlus program was already in effect when I joined Rotary in 1992. Seeing as I have travelitis (the need to travel constantly), the idea of traveling to another part of the world was a Rotary opportunity that I could not pass up. Continue reading

Polio eradication has helped define who we are

131008_jonesBy Jennifer Jones, moderator for Rotary’s Livestream event World Polio Day: Making History

I was perhaps six or seven when I began to wonder why my grandmother walked differently – why she had one leg that was shorter than the other? As I would later learn, she was a polio survivor but to me she was simply grandma.

A few decades later, this disease would play an even more active role in my life, when I became a member of Rotary. Continue reading

How polio changed my life

Pulmão de Aço (Iron Lung), published this year in Brazil, tells the story of Eliana Zagui, a polio survivor who has lived for decades in a hospital in Brazil.

Pulmão de Aço (Iron Lung), published this year in Brazil, tells the story of Eliana Zagui, a polio survivor who has lived for decades in a hospital in Brazil.

By Eliana Zagui, author of Pulmão de Aço (Iron Lung)

Before it was eradicated through the effort of massive immunization campaigns in 1989, poliomyelitis was prevalent in Brazil. The lack of vaccine and poor sanitation in small towns resulted in thousands of victims a year. Avoiding polio was often a matter of luck.

In January 1976, at the age of two, my luck ran out. I woke up with a fever and weak lower limbs. Although my parents were used to my recurrent episodes of sore throat, they brought me to the nearest city of Jaboticabal for medical treatment. The next day, lacking a diagnosis, I was sent to Ribeirão Preto, a larger city with better medical facilities. By the time the doctors Continue reading

My brush with polio

131002_hincksBy Polly Hincks, polio survivor and member of the Rotary Club of West Hartford, Connecticut, USA

Polio is a mystery. In its time it brought terror. It indiscriminently struck with minor flu-like illness in one person, death to the person next door, paralysis of the muscles in a leg or shoulder, or a lifetime spent in an iron lung.

I met up with this evil bug in August 1951. Continue reading

The chance to build a better world through Rotary

130906_celia_giayBy Celia Elena Cruz de Giay, RI director

In December 1995, my husband, Luis, and I visited Bombay (now Mumbai), India, during his year as president-elect of Rotary International. We were there to participate in a national polio immunization day and were very impressed by the social mobilization that went into it. It was the largest immunization day to that point.

When the day arrived, more than 10,000 volunteers were distributed throughout the country, easily identifiable in their yellow jackets and caps imprinted with the Rotary wheel. Continue reading

Polio eradication is the latest fashion trend in Brazil

130830_gabbyBy Gabriela Simionato Klein, public relations specialist

If you take a walk through the Iguatemi, a luxury shopping mall in São Paulo, you can expect to see prestigious brand-name garments from all over the world. But if you strolled through the mall in early August, you’d also have seen the familiar red, white and yellow of the End Polio Now logo on T-shirts in the display windows of Forum Tufi Duek.

The display coincided with a special party the Brazilian label hosted for top model Isabelli Fontana, one of the latest people to become a Rotary Ambassador for polio eradication. Continue reading

Spain rises to the top of World’s Biggest Commercial

Spanish Rotarians promote the World's Biggest Commercial and polio eradication.

Spanish Rotarians promote the World’s Biggest Commercial and polio eradication.

By Pablo Ruiz, Rotary Public Image coordinator for Spain and Portugal

As a Rotary public image coordinator, I have the responsibility to do whatever I can to increase the public’s awareness of Rotary and what we stand for. The goal is of course to  increase membership.

In Spain and Portugal, we have just under 8,000 Rotarians, and our resources are certainly limited. When we saw that Korean Rotarians were leading all countries in the number of photos uploaded to the World’s Biggest Commercial, we were inspired to action. We knew we had to come up with a strategy to increase our participation. Continue reading